The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) 27th annual Leukemia Ball to benefit the fight against leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma is destined to be an evening to remember, and it’s quickly approaching.
WashingtonExec recently spoke with KPMG LLP executive committee member Ellen Goitia and office managing partner Jerry Carlson about the ball, which is set for March 22.
In December, LLS recognized the Washington Metro Area offices of KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, as a “Titan of Business & Philanthropy” for the 2014 ball for its more than 20 years of support to LLS campaigns. The program each year recognizes individuals or companies such as KPMG that have demonstrated extraordinary support and dedication to LLS and the fight against blood cancers, as well as in the local Washington, D.C. community.
Goitia and Carlson spoke to us about winning the award, their fundraising efforts, advice to small businesses hoping to get involved with the Leukemia Ball, and what they’re most looking forward to ahead of the March 22 event.
WashingtonExec: How would you describe your role in this year’s gala? What are you most looking forward to?
Ellen Goitia: As you know, Candy Duncan, who just retired as our local office managing partner, served as co-chair last year and this year serves as the senior co-chair. KPMG has been a long-time supporter of the Leukemia Ball. I personally got involved with the event about three years ago because of the importance of not only the cause and mission of LLS, but because of the event’s importance to the city. KPMG has always wanted to be a key sponsor and supporter of this event, and we’re excited that Jerry, as our new office managing partner, wants to continue our support of the ball, the mission and the organization.
Jerry Carlson: I have had a couple of personal interactions with leukemia so I was pleased to see that we were supporting LLS when I recently moved to the area from St. Louis. In addition to my brother-in-law who has recovered from leukemia, I also know a young associate in my former office in St. Louis who was diagnosed with leukemia 15 months ago. I’m pleased to say he is now in remission, doing well and was recently married. At KPMG, we are honored to support this important cause and the ball, and I am personally as well.
WashingtonExec: How have your fundraising efforts been going for this year’s gala?
Ellen Goitia: I think we have about a month-and-a-half left (at the time of interview). The good news is that we’re ahead of where we were last year, but we’re still looking for additional sponsors. And of course, we still have more raffle tickets to sell for the Mercedes Benz giveaway — one of our most popular raffle items. The night of the event is also a big fundraising night for us, where we raise a substantial amount of money through our calls for support — “Fund The Fight” and “Mission Moment.” That has a goal of $100,000. We also have some auction items that should raise about $300,000. These are wonderful opportunities for people to take unique vacations or have one-of-a-kind experiences. These are some of the biggest success stories of the event.
“The first ball I went to was an amazing experience… I think it is one of the best nights out in the city.”
WashingtonExec: Suppose you are a smaller business interested in getting involved with this year’s ball. What are ongoing ways to get involved?
Ellen Goitia: One way to get started is just to make a contribution; we have a research pool that we also fundraise for as a part of this gala event. Contributions can range anywhere from $25 to $10,000. Supporting the raffle sales is another opportunity to contribute. The event only prints 5,000 tickets so you have a pretty good chance of winning. In fact, my husband was a winner of the Mercedes one year.
We also still have individual seats and tables available. We are willing to match smaller organizations with others if they can’t purchase an entire table.
WashingtonExec: What differentiates the Leukemia Ball from other the black-tie events that we will see this season?
Ellen Goitia: The first ball I went to was an amazing experience — just the sheer number of people who support the event and attend is incredible. Plus, it’s at a great venue, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, and the entertainment is always top notch. This year, we have Huey Lewis and The News and comedian Ryan Hamilton, named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “Top 5 Comics to Watch” for 2013. My guests at this event have always remarked that it is top notch with great entertainment and very good food. I think it is one of the best nights out in the city.
WashingtonExec: KPMG is winning the “Titans of Business” award this year at the Leukemia Ball. What kinds of campaigns have you all been involved with that helped you to win the award?
Jerry Carlson: It is an incredible honor to be recognized with this award, and a great testament to KPMG’s longtime support of LLS and the ball. In recent years, we’ve ramped up our commitment through Candy’s efforts and the drive of our professionals to increase our level of involvement and the support we provide to LLS as well as its mission to find cures and ensure access to care and treatments for those in need.
Ellen Goitia: I would also add that one of KPMG’s core values is, “We are committed to our community,” and we encourage all of our professionals to give back to the community in some way. We offer volunteer time release, which lets employees use time during KPMG’s normal business hours for volunteer activities. Across KPMG, we have donated a tremendous number of volunteer hours to a wide variety of local and national organizations and have been able to make a significant impact on the communities in which we live and work. It’s something we instill in every one of our employees every day. Our connection to the ball is just one example of that commitment.
“I have had a couple of personal interactions with leukemia so I was pleased to see that we were supporting LLS when I recently moved to the area from St. Louis.”
WashingtonExec: If I understand correctly, most of the funds from the gala go toward research in the region, is that correct?
Ellen Goitia: LLS funds more than 300 projects in 10 countries, including some of the best and brightest researchers in the world. A substantial amount of funds spent by the organization (78 cents of every dollar) go toward the program and the mission as opposed to administrative support. LLS is a very lean organization, which makes it one of our favorites to support because we know the dollars raised are going toward research or supporting those who are impacted by this disease.
Sponsorship and tickets to the 2014 Leukemia Ball are still available. Visit www.leukemiaball.org or call (703) 399-2957 for more information.